California Chrome kept his Triple Crown hopes alive by winning the 139th Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
Two weeks after winning the Kentucky Derby, California Chrome separated from the pack during the final furlong to obtain another convincing victory at Pimlico with a 1:54.84 finishing time.
Not considered the strongest field, 10 horses competed at the second leg, three of whom raced at Churchill Downs earlier this month. It was once again Art Sherman's horse who ran away with his sixth consecutive victory to remain undefeated in 2014.
Ride On Curlin rallied late to earn a distant second-place finish. Jockey Joel Rosario, who switched from General a Rod after finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby, led his new horse into the money by pushing past Social Inclusion, who settled for third.
|1||3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||-|
|2||10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||William Gowan||1 1/2|
|3||8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manny Azpurua||8|
|4||2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker||8|
|5||4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||H. Graham Motion||12 1/4|
|6||9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley A. Ward||14|
|7||1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark E. Casse||15 3/4|
|8||7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice||15 3/4|
|9||5||Bayern||Rosie Napravnik||Bob Baffert||20 3/4|
|10||6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss||30 3/4|
via NBC Broadcast
Although Social Inclusion did not compete at Churchill Downs, the colt was labeled a strong contender. As a result, none of the payouts are particularly high.
|Ride on Curlin||$5.60||$3.80|
Via NBC Broadcast
*$2 Exacta (3-10) paid $18.20; $1 Trifecta (3-8-2) paid $38.00; $1 Superfecta (3-10-8-2) paid $173.80.
No horse has claimed the illustrious Triple Crown since 1978, but California Chrome becomes the 13th colt to notch victories in the opening two legs, per SportsCenter's Twitter account.
Lucky number 13? California Chrome is 13th horse to win both Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes since last Triple Crown in 1978.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 17, 2014
The victory should not come as a surprise. After swiftly winning the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths, California Chrome entered the Preakness as the heavy favorite.
There was, however, a brief scare due to a blister in his throat. Assistant trainer Alan Sherman shut down those fears on Friday, assuring The Blood-Horse's Tom LaMarra, via ESPN.com, that Chrome would be OK for the Preakness.
"California Chrome is fine," Sherman said after the colt's workout. "His throat is fine. He got a little tickle, but he's not going to be scratched. I don't know why it was blown out of proportion. The horse is in perfect shape."
Owner Steve Coburn made light of the situation, per NBC Sports.
Owner Steve Coburn says California Chrome is smart enough that if he had a health problem, he would "call you."— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 16, 2014
After the Preakness, Art Sherman immediately turned his attention to the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown whose track is longer than Pimlico's 1 3/16-mile course.
Moments after race, Art Sherman tells NBC: "He's a real racehorse, and I'm hoping that the mile and a half is up his alley, too." #Preakness— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 17, 2014
California Chrome did not hold the lead from start to finish. Pablo Del Monte, who nearly partook in the Kentucky Derby as Hoppertunity's replacement, galloped out to an early edge with blazing speed, but he lost steam after a blazing start.
Rosie Napravnik returned to Maryland, where she competed in her first race as a 17-year-old. She also enjoyed her best Triple Crown finish yet, earning third place with Mylute at last year's Preakness.
This time around, she finished ninth with Bayern, initially considered one of the strongest contenders. Ria Antonia, the race's only filly, crossed the finish line last.
The real story, of course, turns back to California Chrome, who now has a chance for history on June 7. While the quick turnaround between the Derby and Preakness presented a possible obstacle, he quickly proved that worry moot.
Safe to say California Chrome will enter Belmont as the resounding favorite to claim the Triple Crown. Nobody has come close to stopping him yet.